Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Initiative that would levy a state income tax on high-earners is set to move forward

Betting that Washingtonians are in the mood for real tax reform, a coalition of progressive organizations has decided to move forward with an initiative that would impose a state income tax on wealthy couples and individuals, NPI has learned.

The coalition has called a press conference for tomorrow morning to officially announce its plans, billing it as a "major tax reform announcement."

The event will be headlined by William Gates (Sr.), the father of the well known Microsoft founder, who is among the state's most respected experts on tax reform. Gates chaired a commission on fixing the state's tax structure several years ago; among its recommendations was the creation of a state income tax.

(The Legislature has, of course, largely failed to heed Gates' advice in the months and years since the report was completed and delivered.)

If enacted, individuals who make more than $200,000 a year (which is only a fraction of Washington's six million residents) would be subject to the state's first income tax in decades. Conversely, the much-hated business and occupation tax would be almost completely eliminated for eighty percent of small businesses, and property taxes would be reduced by twenty percent.

The genius of Initiative 1077 is that is that it pares back regressive taxes while replacing them with a progressive revenue source to cancel out the loss. It's just the kind of revenue neutral solution our common wealth needs.

The challenge will be getting Washingtonians to tune out the campaign of fear, uncertainty, and doubt that the right wing is certain to wage. We have long believed that extensive public outreach and education are necesssary precursors to realizing the goal of a state income tax. It is true that Initiative 1077 only proposes to impose an income tax on the wealthy, but if it falls short and is rejected by the people, achieving real tax reform will be harder than ever.

Still, as the old saying goes... no risk, no gain. The Great Recession has proved just how problematic our overdependence on consumption taxes is. If it qualifies for the ballot, Initiative 1077 will provide the people of Washington State with an opportunity to address this most serious problem.


Blogger terry said...

Where can I sign?

9:56 AM  
Blogger Zyzzyx said...

Yeah... tax the 'rich'. That's how the national income tax got started. Just tax the wealthy, they can afford it. Now look at the mess its become.

You want real tax reform? National sales tax/fair tax/whatever. That's something that would make a difference. Darn shame the government won't get behind it though, would take jobs away from way too many folks (tax preparers, accountants, and mostly the IRS)

That, and you tax the wealthy here... good bet that at least some of them will be leaving the state. Has certainly happened elsewhere. With that kind of money, they're not necessarily tied to being in WA.

11:25 AM  

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